The Labour Party is committed to a customs union with the EU and reform to prevent the exploitation of free movement by greedy bosses, Jeremy Corbyn said today (February 26).
Unite welcomed the major Brexit intervention by the Labour leader, who said protecting jobs and living standards was his “overriding mission”.
Corbyn spelled out Labour’s commitment to a customs union with the EU, which negates the need for hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
He also pledged to implement an immigration policy “around the needs of the economy based on fair rules and the reasonable management of migration”.
“Most people in our country, regardless of whether they voted leave or remain want better jobs, more investment, stronger rights and greater equality,” Corbyn said.
“Labour respects the result of the referendum and Britain is leaving the EU. But we will not support any Tory deal that would do lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards.”
Labour’s commitment to a customs union increases the chances of a government defeat in the commons over Brexit. Theresa May has fermented rebellion within her party by refusing to back membership of a customs union, a policy opposition parties also object to.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed Corbyn’s speech, saying it shows people have a clear choice between a Labour Brexit that puts people first, or a Tory Brexit that puts party interests above those of the nation.
“On the one hand, there is Labour which has pledged to build on the trading arrangements presently supporting millions of jobs in this country. A Corbyn government will also make it a priority to tackle the greedy bosses who have abused migrant workers to undermine employment conditions and attack the rate for the job,” McCluskey said.
“On the other hand, there are the Tories who are quite clearly putting their own party interests above those of the nation.”
McCluskey added that Corbyn’s speech will also appeal to the employers “who tell me that the chronic uncertainty brought about by the government is causing the investment tap to be turned off”.
“Jobs, living standards and sustaining peace in Northern Ireland desperately depend on getting the best Brexit deal possible. But this government is clearly incapable of agreeing among itself let alone with our European neighbours on the shape of our future,” McCluskey said.
“The sooner that they are gone and Labour can get on with the job of restoring our standing as a country and deliver on our hopes for a fairer nation, the better.”